Previously, we told you about the entire journey that must be made to structure a good story. However, it is much easier to understand each of these stages if we observe clear examples.
We talked that the most important thing when telling a captivating story is knowing how to attack the right emotions. Emotions are linked to hormones and these are activated through different stimuli. The chemical processes that occur in our brains when we hear a moving story is what makes us create a bond, a connection with the story.
Storytelling is one of the most important communication tools in the world, because it allows us to connect, and even persuade with the message we have, it also gives us the opportunity to build trust and loyalty. Do you want to learn how to do it?
Next we will show a series of examples where each of the elements expressed in the previous post are presented in a clear way. The best way to learn how to develop the storytelling technique is by observing the best:
We’ll start with a touching case:
“It all started with an email.”
I’m going to tell you the story of when I was almost kidnapped in the trunk of a red Mazda Miata, just the day after my graduation from design school, while I was at a garage sale. The guy stopped in his car and started looking at my stuff, until he decided to buy a piece of art I made. By talking a little with him I discovered I was alone, so I invited him for a beer and he told me all about his passion for making a difference in the world.
We talked all night until it suddenly started to get very late and I realized I was very tired. At that moment I made the mistake of asking him, “Where are you staying tonight?” and he says, “I don’t really have a place”.
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I thought to myself, “Oh, man!” What are you doing? We’ve all been like this, haven’t we? Do I offer to accommodate this boy? But… I just met him, what if he’s not who he really says? I don’t want to end up kidnapped in the trunk of a Miata. That’s a small trunk.
Then, without thinking much, I say, “Hey, I have an air bed where you can stay in my living room.” And a voice in my head says, “Wait, what?”
That night, I was lying on the bed, looking at the ceiling and thinking, “My God, what have I done? There’s a complete stranger sleeping in my living room. What if he’s psychotic? ”. My anxiety grew so much that I jumped out of bed, tiptoed towards the door and locked it. It turns out I wasn’t psychotic. We’ve been in touch ever since. And the artwork he bought at the garage sale is hanging in his classroom; he’s a teacher now.
This was my first accommodation experience, and it completely changed my perspective. Maybe the people my childhood taught me to label as strangers were actually friends waiting to be discovered. The idea of accommodating people in air beds gradually became natural to me and when I moved to San Francisco, I brought the air bed with me.
Two years after this I found myself unemployed, almost bankrupt, my roommate moved out and the rent went up. Then I find out that there is a design conference coming to town, and all the hotels are sold out. And I’ve always believed that turning fear into fun is the gift of creativity.
So here’s what I present to my best friend and my new roommate, Brian Chesky: “Brian, I came up with a way to make a few dollars, turning our place into ‘Designers bed and breakfast’, offering young designers who come to town a place to go, where they’ll have wireless internet, a small space on the desk, mattress and breakfast every morning.”
We created a basic website and AirBed and Breakfast was born. Three lucky guests stayed on a $20 air bed on the wood floor. But they loved it, and so did we.
The wheels started spinning. My former roommate, Nate Blecharczyk, joined as an engineering co-founder. And we fastened our belts to see if we could turn this into a business.
Here’s what we proposed to investors: “We want to build a website where people publicly post photos of their most intimate spaces, their bedrooms, bathrooms, the kind of rooms that are usually kept closed when people come. And then, through the Internet, they’re going to invite complete strangers to sleep in their homes. It’s going to be huge! “
We sat down and waited for the rocket to take off. It didn’t. No one in their right mind would invest in a service that would allow strangers to sleep in people’s homes. Why? Because we have all been taught as children, strangers have the same danger.
That’s when we realized we had to start building trust. I want to give you an idea of the trust we were trying to achieve with this 30-second experiment: I need you to pick up your phone and unlock it, now give your unlocked phone to the person on your left. That little panic you feel now is exactly how the hosts feel the first time they open their house. Because the only thing more personal than your phone is your home. People don’t just see your messages, they see your room, your kitchen, your bathroom.
However, if you’d had 150 reviews of these people saying, “They’re great for holding unlocked phones!” you’d probably have felt calmer handing over your phone.
It turns out that a well-designed reputation system is key to building trust. Finally, we learned to wait until the guests and hosts left the review before leaving.
Not everything went well, the guests came to destroy houses, and the hosts left the guests in the rain, in the first days I was customer service, and those calls came directly to my cell phone. I was in the first line of breach of trust. And there’s nothing worse than those calls.
However, we had a special stay that changed the course of history: an Argentine writer staying in Uruguay suffered a heart attack and the hosts took him to the hospital. They donated their own blood for his operation. After the operation, the writer received an email to give his review of the hosts, this was his review:
“Excellent home for sedentary travelers prone to myocardial heart attacks. The area is beautiful and has direct access to the best hospitals. Javier and Alejandra instantly become guardian angels who will save your life without even knowing you. They will take you to the hospital in their own car while you die and stay in the waiting room while the doctors give you a bypass. They don’t want you to feel alone, they bring you books to read. And they let you stay at their house for extra nights without charging you. Very recommendable!”
From this moment Joe Beggia’s life changed completely when the review grew in popularity. He is now one of the world’s youngest millionaires and his hosting system is known throughout the world as Airbnb.
Joe’s story is a powerful example of brand storytelling, probably those who know the Airbnb service have no idea how it was conceived, but when they hear the story there is no doubt that they will remember fondly that moment when the service gave them great help. Airbnb uses this story to sell its service.
In the history we can observe the character of the hero, that sometimes is represented by Joe and in other occasions by the service in itself. The context of the story also allows us to get closer to Joe, when he talks about the terrible economic situation he was going through and how he urgently needed a great idea. All the context data from the beginning to the end makes it possible for us to make a visual image of everything that happens; unconsciously this has a great emotional impact.
Joe was bankrupt in San Francisco, but a couple of years ago what he lived through by giving a place to stay to a total stranger somehow opened his eyes. It is at this point in history where his challenge is presented and along with it, his opportunity to emerge with a new idea.
After presenting the challenge we have an example of conflict, that in the story is observed when Joe carries out the project and begins to present errors in the system as well as many complaints. It shows a protagonist scared but confident of himself and his plans, trying to act analytically to solve the problem.
The resolution shows an unexpected sequence of events triggered by the tenant’s heart attack. At this point in history it shows how positive events close history and make airbnb one of the most important lodging services in the world.
In addition to this, human situations are narrated with which we identify ourselves as persons, and which are directed at the oxytocin hormone. Likewise, at the beginning of the story a question is used that triggers a dopamine bomb in the listeners.
It’s also important that there are other elements that complete the story like the “Show me” at the beginning of the story when Joe is scared, or “Make me feel” that creates a lot of anticipation but without being predictable. It didn’t occur to anyone that a comment from a client was going to mean salvation for the project.
The popular whiskey brand also has a very important place in the world of storytelling. One of the most outstanding cases are the commercials interpreted by the actor, where the man is shown walking along a long path, while telling the story behind the brand. The image is a metaphor for Johnnie Walker’s emblem and slogan: “keep walking”.
Here is another example of storytelling
In 1819 in Scotland, John Walker’s father had just died. So the beginning of his adolescence, when he was just 14 years old, does not sound at all simple. He was a very young boy who worked in the fields, and most would have thought he didn’t have much to offer. However, this man had a certain sparkle in his eyes that is very difficult to find.
Although the world in those days wasn’t the friendliest place and John knew it. There was no time to lament. There was a life to build. That same year, the family farm had been sold and the money used to set up his own grocery store in the town of Kilmarnock. It was a smart move. John had a natural gift for business.
Besides, he had a talent for whiskey. During those past days, most shops and grocery stores offered a line of single malts, but these whiskies were not very consistent. This was not good enough for John, who started mixing them so that his whisky would have a unique and lasting taste. His powerful combination became a popular addition to the inventory.
John continued to work all his life to offer the best whiskey, but in 1857 the long path he walked came to an end, what would happen to the brand? It is at this point that the story becomes one of the largest family businesses in the world; his son, Alexander, made the decision to continue a thriving business.
Life was too fast back then. Britain was the heart of the Industrial Revolution that was destined to change absolutely everything. In Kilmarnock, the railroad had arrived, carrying goods to the great ships that regularly sailed to the four corners of the world.
Alexander knew how to recognize an unrepeatable opportunity when he saw it
In 1867, the first Johnnie Walker mix was released to the public and he called it ‘Old Highland Whisky’. He then made a clever move by turning captains into his agents to take his whisky anywhere the ships could sail. Within a short time, his unique blend was available around the world.
The family’s whiskey was incredible, however, many of the bottles failed to reach their destination, breaking in the middle of the long journey. After many tests the team found a way to do it, they designed square bottles that not only gave more protection to the product but also made it different. The distinctive label, inclined at exactly 20 degrees, was also added to make it stand out even more from the crowd.
In 1889, it was Alexander’s turn to inherit the surname Walker, leaving the company to his sons Alexander II and George; the first a master mixer and the second a master in business.
It was during this time that the most recognized illustrator of the moment, Tom Browne, outlined an idea for a logo on the back of a menu during lunch. Alexander and George adopted the “Walker” immediately.
In 1920, Johnnie Walker whiskey was in 120 countries. As the century progressed, it became part of global culture: immortalized by singers and filmmakers, idolized by socialites and movie stars, enjoyed by politicians, and walking shoulder to shoulder with the great sportsmen and women of the time.
By the end of the 20th century, the pioneering blend of Johnnie Walker Red Label and the iconic Johnnie Walker Black Label had been joined by the pinnacle of blending art: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, so the variety continued to grow.
Today, Johnnie Walker is the world’s largest whisky brand and its slogan has been adopted and coined everywhere as a battle cry to inspire progress, as courage in adversity, as an expression of joy and optimism and as the best advice anyone is ever willing to receive.
In this example, the same order of the story is not maintained, but without a doubt it is necessary to present all or almost all the elements. So it is a case that allows us to notice how each story can be completely unique and still generate an impact.
In this case, the heroes are the family members who generation after generation turned the brand into what it is today. The main purpose of the story is to tell the story of perseverance behind the Johnnie Walker brand. The context of the story is developed in Scotland with a 14 year old John, this information allows us to visualize a little more the scene of a young entrepreneurial child.
The challenge of the story starts from John’s main idea of creating a new whiskey that would satisfy his ideals. Then, we briefly talk about the rise of the industrial revolution, which allows us to place the story in a social context, while showing at the same time the conflict that, although very tenuous, is a manifestation of strength in the face of adversity, generation after generation. It also shows a mini conflict in relation to the bottles that were lost in the very long trips, the problem was solved with the design of the characteristic squared bottles of the brand.
The resolution is given with the success of Johnnie Walker and its transcendence with the passing of the years, as well as the words of encouragement that unexpectedly bring us closer sentimentally to the brand. This is how the magic of storytelling works.
Originally Post “Storytelling ejemplos: la magia de una historia“
Translated by Oscar Moreno.